Venezuelans go to the polls

Hugo Chavez seeks another six-year term in the country's presidential elections.

    Chavez is favourite to win re-election to
    Venezuela's presidency

    Chavez opponent

     

    Rosales, governor of the western oil state of Zulia, has attacked Chavez's record on tackling high crime and unemployment. He has promised to stem policy which he says is edging Venezuela towards authoritarian rule.

     

    "The future of Venezuela is at stake," Rosales told supporters shouting "President, President" as he cast his ballot in his home state.

     

    "This is one of the most important elections in the history of our country," he said.

     

    He appealed to the electoral authorities to mend some voting machines printing out blank ballots when voters selected "Rosales". Chavez has said that Rosales will look for an excuse to cry fraud.

     
    Election authorities have dismissed worries over vote-tampering, and the opposition-aligned El Universal newspaper reported that Sunday's election had more safeguards than a 2004 recall referendum, which critics said was rigged in favour of Chavez.
     

    "There is no possibility of any fraud in the election," electoral council official Vicente Diaz told the El Universal newspaper in an interview published on Saturday.

     

    Divided country

     

    Venezuela is sharply polarised. Many poor people applaud Chavez's spending of oil income on health and education while some upper- and middle-class voters say he is a fledgling dictator determined to follow Castro.

     

    "There is no possibility of any fraud in the election"

    Vicente Diaz, electoral council official

    Send us your views

    The most recent opinion survey, commissioned by the state oil company with a US pollster, showed Chavez with a 19-point lead over Rosales.

     

    Rosales has mustered the opposition's most serious challenge to Chavez in years with populist promises to redistribute Venezuela's oil wealth and roll back policies he says are edging the country towards Cuban-style communism.

     

    A Chavez victory would shore up his campaign to forge a regional alliance of leftist leaders to counter Washington's influence in Latin America. He applauded this week's victory by leftist Rafael Correa in Ecuador's presidential run-off.

       

    A former paratrooper who led a botched coup six years before his 1998 election, Chavez says he is inspired by South American liberation hero Simon Bolivar to free Latin America from US-backed "imperialist" policies.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.